This is one of those testimonies where you don’t know where to begin because God did so much on so many levels. I have to say that as a writer, not one bit of this is embellished. Although parts of it may be hard to believe for those without faith or those who haven’t experienced the transformative power of knowing the Holy Spirit on a personal level, maybe my testimony here will lead you to pray in Jesus’ name for you to come to know Him in this way? However, I assure you that every part of this is true! God is real, and the part of Him that communicates with His children and works miracles on earth is the Holy Spirit. He has transformed my “boring” religious life as a child into a vibrant, exciting day-to-day walk with Him, where He is very involved in every problem I face.
A separate testimony in itself required me to undergo a highly specialized, very expensive spine surgery in San Diego on March 15th of this year. Realistically, I was facing either that or possibly spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair. It ended up requiring me to seek financial help from everyone I knew, exhausting every account I had, as well as my college retirement 401k. Even then, one week before my surgery, I was still short $9500.00. On the Sunday I was set to fly out, with all reservations made including a last-minute travel companion, doctors, and hospital scheduling, I received a phone call during the worship service. I walked to the foyer to take the call. It was from a Christian couple who told me that while they were praying for me in their living room, God spoke to their hearts to loan me the money. They had heard that I had been trying to sell my 2008 F250 Superduty truck to raise the remaining funds, but the truck still hadn’t sold, despite being parked for some time on Grand Central, one of the busiest streets in Horseheads, a village connected to Elmira. They told me that when I got home from the surgery, I could sell the truck and repay the loan. It was a wonderful answer to prayer, and the trip for the surgery proceeded just as I believed God had planned.
When I got home and became well enough, I completed some prep work on the truck and sought out a body shop for some painting on the repaired areas. Someone, whom I’ll leave nameless and not mention their location, contacted me, saying that someone in their family had a vehicle repair shop that did auto body work. After praying about it and discussing it with them, it seemed like another God-ordained connection, so I left the truck with them to get it ready for what I thought would be the final prep before resale. About two weeks later, I received a call informing me that the truck was finished and I could come pick it up. There are certain things a man especially loves: his fishing pole(s), his golf clubs, his hunting rifles, his most comfortable jeans, but most certainly his truck! For me, it was yet another alabaster box gift for my Lord that would be required in His service. Therefore, when I saw my truck on the day I went to pick it up, my heart sank. The man who did the work had either by his fault or the fault of the company where he bought the paint, gotten the colors way off! My Ford “Hunter Green” now looked to me like I had gone and purchased a separate truck box at a salvage yard with a “blue-green,” very different color. There was overspray on the running boards, the rear bumper, and other places on the truck that should have been well-taped off. There was a bad “orange peel” effect on all of the clear coats, and my heart sank in huge disappointment of an expectation of a truck that would be ready to sell!
The only thing I could do immediately was to begin to state that I didn’t know how, but somehow God was going to work this out. Having spent over 35 years walking with His Holy Spirit and watching Him walk upon the storms of my life over and over, and calm the seas around me, gave me the assurance that He would work this out.
In confronting the mechanic turned “auto body” man about the unacceptable job, I did it in what I felt was a loving way. He became very defensive, and it was obvious that he was not admitting to his shortcomings on the project. I asked him if he believed in God, and he assured me that he did not. I told him that if he was, I couldn’t take him to small claims court because the scripture is clear that such disagreements between believers need to be worked out in the church. I also assured him that “God was real and somehow He would work this all out.” After a lot of prayer and consulting with elder businessmen, I realized that I would need to allow God to work through the courts on this one. I began to make phone calls and set up a time to meet with that area’s town hall and schedule. I found it interesting that when I drove to that town for a scheduled visit, the office was unexpectedly closed early that day and there was no one there. I drove away praying and asking God if indeed He had a separate plan, as it appeared as if He had shut the door, at least for that day. Perhaps this would be a lesson in perseverance, so I planned to return the following week.
In the process, I had been praying about several options to correct the problem. One was a complete decal wrap with a product made by “Mossy Oak” that turned an average truck into a sportsman’s dream vehicle. Its promotion comes with detailed YouTube videos showing that almost anyone can apply the product. Myself being a God-gifted creative kind of guy, I was quite sure that I could do the job. The cost, however, would be another $750 which I did not have but thought that my God could even supply that if it was His will to get the truck ready for resale. The truck obviously could not be sold like that without taking a huge hit on the resale value. Another option would be to sand off and re-prime all of the new paint in the different areas of the truck and try to blend in the correct color myself, having had some bodywork experience in the past. That seemed to me like the most unlikely solution. However, what ended up being the best decision would be a third option, a combination of the two. I had watched several YouTube videos on bodywork, and one advertised a company that had 10,000 different car colors in spray cans with their own “how-to” video on getting a professional-looking auto body repair paint color match using their product. Then I could do a camouflage rocker cover application of the Mossy Oak decal, which is often done and seen on many trucks in our area.
To my surprise, a return phone call from the man’s daughter who did the paint job on my truck revealed that he would like to try to settle out of court. My prayerful offer to him was that as a businessman myself for many years, I realized that when a job goes bad, a small businessman can afford to surrender his own labor time, but having to pay for products used puts an extra strain on their own finances. Therefore, I offered him the option to release me of the $475 still due on the job and to return the labor part of what I had paid him. If he could produce his receipts on the paint products, I would agree to pay for those in his attempt to do the job. His daughter drove to my house later that day, Praise God, with a check for about $680. This would cover my costs if I chose the Mossy Oak decal package which ironically was being offered in a Labor Day weekend special for 10% off. Little did I know the most surprising miracle was about to occur!
As I continued in prayer on the subject, the “Duplicolor” paint company video kept coming to mind. I knew that if I could just blend in the right paint color and do the decal application on the rocker cover areas, I could in a relatively short time have a sellable vehicle. One day while in the village of Horseheads, I decided to drive over to the nearby “AutoZone” store because it was one of the stores mentioned in the video as having the product. However, on the way there, I felt this unusual tug in my heart to stop at another parts store called “Advanced Auto.” They too were mentioned, but only as someone who might have it. As I went into the store, it had just been hugely remodeled and upsized, so as I approached the counter, I thought, “Wow Lord, maybe a place this big would have a wide variety of auto paint colors.” As I inquired, providing my year and make with the color codes of my truck, the individual began typing on his computer. He shockingly told me that he did not know why, but that the only colors of auto paint that they carried right now, as they were just stocking their new store, were white and black. This aroused my curiosity, really believing that God had re-routed me there, but I politely asked him if he could run the numbers and see if the product could be ordered in from the company or another store. Interestingly enough, once again, he said “no,” that he could not find where it was available in their company. In my mind at that point, I felt like I had somehow misunderstood what I had felt in my heart that day and decided that I would just go on over to AutoZone. As I thanked him and turned to go out the door, I felt a second tug on my heart, and God’s still small voice said “Go over to the paint aisle.” So I took a sharp left turn and started looking through their well-stocked new store. As I approached what obviously was their body repair aisle, I saw dozens of spray cans of “Duplicolor” paint product! In looking closer, I recognized what looked to be my Ford color. However, as it turned out, it was from a different year, but it looked very close. I took it right over to the young man, and he quickly apologized and admitted that he was still in training. I decided to go back and as I looked through the other colors, I found a very similar looking paint color cap; however, it was a Chrysler emerald green. But recognizing what God had originally put on my heart, I decided to buy both cans, and though a bit pricey, I knew it would be a worthwhile investment if by some miracle it was a good match to my 2008 slightly sun-faded original paint color.
A few days later, I had the time to go and set back up in a garage that a man in our church owned. It was a property he had purchased to fix up and “flip” for resale, and ironically it had been a former auto body shop. A former student of mine who God just had brought back into my life named Jody, who was a new believer, helped me load my heavy air compressor and tools back in the truck, and we went prayerfully hoping to get a good start on the new “redo!”
I decided to take what I thought was the Ford color in my hand and spray it inside one of the doorposts where it wouldn’t matter later and could be easily redone before the resale. As I sprayed, Jody commented on what a great match it was, and I agreed! “Praise God, I thought, this might just work!” Like my pastor Joe Chamberlin says, “If it was my thinking all along, it fails, but if it was really God, it succeeds for His glory!” At that point, I was convinced that it truly had been God who led me to try this Duplicolor product. What I was about to discover, however, was that the greatest part of His leading was yet to be revealed. I told Jody that I was going to go over to the driver’s door where the body man had sprayed the off-color product with his spray gun over a couple of small areas of repair that I had primed. That way it would give us a good idea over a larger area of its potential match. When I started shaking up the can, I looked down and by mistake, because the cap colors were so close, I had picked up the Chrysler emerald-green color. It was such a close match that it was amazing. As I proceeded to spray it over an area about the size of a basketball, it seemed to further confirm that I had found the right color with God’s amazing leading! When I applied a couple of coats of the clear coat, we both had the “Wow” effect! The Chrysler color from totally another year out of 10,000 possible colors was a great match! I then told Jody, just for the heck of it, I am going to try the Ford color on another area beside the Chrysler area. Then we will have a good comparison. While the Ford color was not too far off, it still was not the best match. Once again in my life, God the Holy Spirit who Jesus called the “Wonderful Counselor who will guide you in all truth,” had guided me in a very practical way. So many times, at my “day job,” I pray when we are stuck in a troubleshooting situation or looking for a hard-to-find part and in a way that only you know if you know Him, He speaks in what the Bible calls “His still small voice” and directs our steps for His Glory.
As I told that mechanic turned “auto body” man, “God is real, and I don’t know how yet, but He is going to work this out for His glory!” I somehow feel that this testimony is not over yet. As I write this out for others to enjoy tomorrow, I have my last Zoom appointment with my San Diego surgeon. While the healing progress has been slower than I hoped every day I get a little better for God’s glory. I am back to work at my day job, and there are days where I am exhausted by the time I get home because in some ways I was required to start back to work before I felt that I was ready without risking losing my job. However, even in this, He is faithful to give me the grace needed to complete the tasks that are set before me! Be looking soon for “Part two” of my truck testimony! Like the old country song said, “I Love My Truck!” LOL.
This is a personal story that exemplifies the remarkable intervention of the Holy Spirit in everyday life. I felt compelled to share it in the hopes that it may inspire and uplift others who may be facing similar challenges.
Additionally, I wanted to mention that I have taken some time to focus on writing my first book. While this endeavor has temporarily shifted my attention, I am eager to return to my op-ed contributions in the near future.